June the 14th marked an important day for our long standing clients Mike Hall and Shuna MacKillop of Old Alresford House in Hampshire. The creation and restoration of their Grade II listed park and gardens, which we’d worked on together for 8 years, was complete.
The house was built by Admiral Lord Rodney, one of Britain’s greatest naval heroes, who in 1764 commissioned Richard Woods, a contemporary of Capability Brown, to design the grounds of his property. In 1766 Rodney was forced to rent out the Estate to escape debts, and Woods’ creation was abandoned. 238 years later, when our clients acquired the property, the Woods’ plan was dusted off and this ambitious project embarked upon.
Our clients’ vision was to restore the garden to Woods’ precise design, planting only trees, shrubs and flowers introduced into Britain by 1764, so Simon Hoare undertook detailed historical research, before our project team produced a masterplan laying out the ha-ha, sunk fences, woodland walks and 22 shrubberies as originally proposed. Working closely with us as the plan was realised, our clients also extended the commission to include the creation of a contemporary Mediterranean Pool garden as an intimate family area, a chalk stream bog garden with boardwalk and a formal entrance courtyard.
With Woods’ vision and the gardens complete Mike and Shuna wanted to mark the occasion. The Colvin & Moggridge team, some of our clients and business associates, as well as Woods expert Fiona Cowell and historian John Martin Robinson, gathered to celebrate the moment. Hal Moggridge cut the ribbon and officially opened the gardens.
Our guests, then set off on the one-mile perimeter walk taking in the 22 acres of parkland and 13 acres of gardens before rounding the day off with champagne and Jacaranda canapés.
A few days later the gardens were opened for the first time to the public under the National Gardens Scheme. Over 600 garden enthusiasts enjoyed visiting the Old Alresford House gardens, with many committing to come back year on year, so taken were they by the combination of an ambitious restoration project and dramatic contemporary gardens.